Moringa Oleifera is a fast growing and disease resistant tree in the plant family Moringaceae. Well adapted to tropical and subtropical climate it has many commercial applications.
The tree is used in water purification, traditional medicine, manufacturing and culinary applications. Common names include horseradish tree, drumstick tree, benzoil tree and moringa. The two commonly grown moringa are the African moringa and Moringa oleifera.
Top Producers of Moringa
The top producer of moringa is Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal Odisha all in India. It is cultivated in Southeast Asia, South Africa, Africa, central Africa and the Caribbean’s.
- Southeast Asia
- South Africa
- Central Africa
Health Benefits of Moringa
There are many health benefits according to traditional and medical practitioners. The extract is used to treat sickle cell disease, anemia. The retina protective effect has been documented by scientist including reduction in hypertension.
It has wound healing properties, protects from kidney problem and used to treat asthma. It is used to treat diabetes, improve bone healing, boost immunity and found in skincare lotions. The presence of antioxidants is said to protect cardiovascular system.
- Treat sickle cell disease
- Retina protection
- Reduction hypertension
- Wound healing properties
- Protects from kidney problem
- Treat asthma
- Treat diabetes
- Improve bone healing
- Boost immunity
- Skincare lotions
- Protect cardiovascular system.
Pests and Diseases
The tree is pest and disease resistant with very few issues. Common pests are birds that feast on the leaves, caterpillars. Others are aphids, budworms and termites.
The tree grows 30 to 40 ft., truck diameter 43cm. The young shoots feature hairy bark, greenish white to purple coloration. The whitish gray bark has thick cork while the branches are delicate and tripinnate leaves spread into a full foliage.
The asexual flowers have yellowish white thin petals and aromatic fragrance. They grow in drooping flower clusters and measure about 2cm broad, 1.5cm long.
Different Uses of Moringa
The different uses of moringa is based on culture, traditional practices, medicine and culinary applications. Almost every part of the amazing tree is used for different purposes.
Most parts of the plant is edible and others have different applications. Useful parts are the roots, flowers, mature seeds. Others include the leaves and oil processed from the seeds.
Traditional medicine practitioners use the leaves, roots to make medicine. The roots due to large amounts of polyphenols are shredded. The seeds extracted from mature pods have high vitamin C are roasted and eaten as snacks.
Ben oil is an edible oil extracted from mature seeds. The seed is high in behenic and oil clean, odorless. The resultant seed cake from the oil extract is perfect for biofuel, fertilizer production.
Some parts are good condiments while the flocculent is used in water purification. South Asians eat the inmate seed pods by parboiling, cooking. The leaves are also fed to cattle, goats and sheep.
- Traditional medicine
- eaten as snacks
- Edible oil extract
- Fertilizer production
- Water purification
- found in skincare lotions
The best soil condition for the tree is well- drained loamy or sandy soil. The PH level should not exceed 7 and waterlogged areas would kill the roots. The site selection should consider the climatic condition because the tree require lots of sunlight.
Moringa with die in freezing or frosty weather and irrigation is not mandatory. The tree starts to flower 180 days after planting and they occur once a year.
This usually happens around April and June however the tree will flower through the year in ideal conditions. The moringa tree has brown capsule shaped fruits that contains 1cm globular seeds. The seeds are dispersed by wind and pruning is a normal practice.
- Well- drained soil
- Loamy or sandy soil
- PH level 6.5 to 7
- Avoid waterlogged
- Avoid freezing or frosty weather
- irrigation is not mandatory
- Tree flowers in 6 months
- Best climate tropical subtropical
- Rainfall level 250 to 3000mm
How to Grow Moringa
There are three stages to grow moringa tree. You need soil preparation, propagation and planting. Large farms would require plowing while small ones could use dug pits. Make sure the pits are about 45 cm deep and 35 cm wide.
Soil erosion is a big problem with moringa trees. The trees grow easily and there are two ways to propagate moringa. The farmer can plant the seeds or cut. Vegetable propagation through cutting is not ideal for large farms.
Cut a length of 1m with diameter of 4cm. Moringa oleifera can germinate from the seeds in proper soil composition, watering and climatic conditions. Intensive leaf production requires plants spaced 20 x 10 cm for easier growth, harvesting and farm management.
Semi-intensive culture requires large space based on lower density. Agroforestry cultivation requires rows at least 4m while weeding is mandatory. It is possible to grow moringa alongside certain plants with different root penetration.
Growing Moringa Tree from Cutting
- Cut 2.5cm in diameter 1.8 m long
- Dig a hole 3x3x3
- Place cutting in hole
- Fill with mix soil, manure, sandy soil
- Water immediately
How to Grow from Seeds
The seeds germinate fast and an effective way to grow moringa. The seeds do not have a dormancy period so mature ones are ready to plant.
First select a suitable site with sandy soil and sunlight. Then dig a hole 1 square feet deep, add manure and backfill. Place 3 to 4 seeds in each hole 5cm apart and width of 1.5cm. Water to keep soil moist to prevent drying of top soil.
Waterlogged areas should be avoided and the soil should have good drainage. At 6 inches leave the healthier sapling and remove the others while maintain the rows and space distribution.
Growing Moringa in Seedling Bags and Transplanting
You can plant in bags for later transplanting. To plant in bags fill the seedling bags with appropriate soil mix. Then plant two seeds per bag, wet to keep moist and germination will occur in 2 weeks.
To transplant water the soil a day before moving them to farm. Plant seedlings in the morning or early afternoon then cut open the bag and place seedling in hole. Fill the hole with soil and water immediately.
The tree is cultivated for its leaves and pods. Tree propagated through cutting attain maturity in 8 months and it takes 2 to 3 years to produce 300 to 600 pods. The average yield of leaves per hectare is estimated at 10 to 30 tons a year while estimated oil output from kernels is 250 l/ha.
Things that affect yield include climatic conditions, species, fertilization, water table. The tree thrives in dry warm areas with appropriate irrigation and fertilizer. Basic handheld equipment are used to harvest the leaves and pruning is applied to stimulate branch production.